In her book MAKING A LITERARY LIFE, the lovely and generous-hearted Carolyn See advises writers to make a quick, un-fancy list of influential (doesn't have to be in a good way) people in their lives. See maintains that we often draw our characters from these individuals and our relationship to them. Anyway. Here's my list. I deliberately didn't include my kids in an effort to cast my net a little wider.
MY HUSBAND: Numero Uno Important Person. He looked like a hood with his thick black beard, afro and greasy sleeveless sweatshirt the summer I first noticed him. I wasn't exactly smitten--but I was interested. "Smitten" came later. "Interested" remained the same. He sent off my first manuscript to Delacorte. He made me be a writer.
MY DAD: When I was three I told him I was going to marry him some day! He was my first serious crush. When I was little he taught me how to swim and wrestle. Also, he laughed at my jokes. Who could resist?
MY MOM: She was the best-looking mom on the block and once wore rings on her toes at a party to get a rise out of the guests. She sees herself as a peacemaker. I see her as a glorious fighter, taking on all comers. Did I mention she was a rodeo queen? Not everyone can say that about their mom.
MY MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER: The single most important person to me when I was a little girl, I keep her picture by my bedside. Smothering, loving, invasive, tough, madly loyal, fiercely intelligent, infuriating--she often overrode my own mother in an attempt to be an uber-mother to us both. The last words I spoke to her in person were angry ones. Of course I didn't know then they would be the last ones. I still regret them. Bitterly.
MY YOUNGEST BROTHER: The funniest man God ever made. Period. End of story.
BECKY THOMAS: We had girl crushes on each other since we were ten. We sounded out each other on everything--boys, parents, school, religion, our bodies, our kids. She was wicked smart and like C. S. Lewis's description of his mother, she took to happiness the same way some people take to the best seat on the train. She died suddenly five years ago this spring. I still feel like only half of myself without her.
NAMELESS GUY: I was madly in love with him from grade 6 through grade 12 and he never noticed. What was so wrong with me that I couldn't get him to take a look?
MISS NELSON: My high school AP English teacher. When we were reading THE GREAT GATSBY the spring of my senior year, she made the surprising announcement in class that "men love women who smolder." I've never forgotten that.
ANNETTE ROGERS: My editor at the now defunct Utah Holiday Magazine, she taught me how to write a feature article. She tells a great story and wears pink Prada shoes that show off her slim ankles to perfection.